My Groundnut Harvest

wild_foragerNovember 21, 2008

I grew my groundnut (apios americana) in a 3 gallong container, from a 2 inch tuber that I ordered online. My foot in the lower picture is about 12 inches long for size comparrison. I have yet to taste them, but I'll let everyone know what I think once I do. Typically in the wild you would take the two year old tubers and put the young ones back. These are all first year, but are much larger than the wild variety so I plan to eat some of them anyway.

The beautiful flowers that, unfortunately, bore me no peas this year. They are extremely hard to pollinate as they have a trigger mechanism.

These strings of tubers were literally wrapping around and around the small container. This plant loves to spread but I have no garden soil for them so I made due with what I had.

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jimster(z7a MA)

This is very unusual and interesting. Your pictures are excellent. I look forward to more posts on this topic.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 2:27PM
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I have the same experience with pollination of Apios Americana (groundnut) flowers even though there are plenty of pollinators flying around in my garden.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 5:47PM
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Hmm... I always wondered what the base was for the groundnut stew I had once and loved... it was an African dish, and I wasn't sure what the "nuts" were... NOW I know!! Hmm, where can you get this sort of plant? I'm guessing it's a tropical?


    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 8:44PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Actually, groundnut (the kind discussed here) is not tropical. If I am correct, it is a wild plant commonly used by American Indians in temperate zones. But wild forager, the OP, can tell us more about that.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 9:50PM
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Jimster you are right. This is a plant you are more likely to find growing in the forest than at a plant nursery or grocery store.

Lori, the 'groundnut' you refer to is the common peanut. It is sometimes called groundnut, much to the detriment of apios americana. Much as papayas are sometimes called pawpaws (another native american fruit that is delicious but few know of).

This member of the legume family makes both peas and tubers. But like I said, I haven't had a chance to try it yet. It's a fascinating plant though, and is nitrogen fixing. It has great potential for a cultivated crop, but has been mostly ignored and forgotten because the tubers typically take two years to reach a decent size. This is a semi-cultivate variety from LSU. They discontinued their work unfortunately, not because they failed, but because of other life circumstances.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 9:23AM
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trsinc(8 TX)

Well, whenever you get around to trying it I'm interested in hearing how they taste. So, did you get your tuber directly from LSU? Or did they just start out there? I'd like to order from your source if you remember who they are.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 6:13PM
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Edible Landscaping just started carrying them and I ordered it form them online. They are one of the few who sell it, and its $10 for one tuber. Also, beware. Once you put this in the ground you will NEVER get it out. It's a native invasive. Imagine tubers under your driveway, within masses of tree roots etc... Once you plant it, it's there for life.

But like I said, it's also native, and nitrogen fixing.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 8:31AM
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Alright, the taste test is done!

I began by peeling two and leaving the other two with skins on. The ends were barely cut off the ones with skin to remove the extra root. Of the peeled ones I cut one in half. I covered in olive oil and salt and baked.

The ones with skin actually split open halfway through. It would seem that even having the ends off is not enough to keep them from splitting (split, not explode). These tended to be a bit drier due to the insides being exposed.

The ones without skin formed a tough (but not tough in a bad way) seal around the inner flesh, keeping it more moist.

The texture is not unlike a potato, only slightly more mealy, and it tends to crumble more easily where a potato would clump if you mashed it. I think that if dried, they would make a good flour (I believe I've read as much somewhere...)

The flavor is almost entirely like a white potato, but nuttier. I actually prefer it.

Due to the slightly mealy and drier condition of the inner flesh I would reccommend boiling rather than baking, unless perhaps it is being soaked with drippings from something else.

Overall I really liked these, and they are as easy to prepare as a potato. I definately plan to add this to my venison stew next time I geta chance to make it.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 12:13PM
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trsinc(8 TX)

Thanks, wild forager. Glad to know this. Do you think they would store like a regular potato? - for months.

I live on caliche soil. All my beds are raised. Do you think a raised bed would contain them? I can't imagine them being able to push through solid caliche.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 4:29PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

This plant deserves more attention. I know that has been said before, but a few dedicated folks like wild forager need to continue the development of Apios as a garden crop. It will be especially exciting if this work is done by GWers who will keep us informed of their progress and perhaps recruit others here to help in various ways.

As I understand it, this was an important food for American Indians before the introduction of Irish potatoes. Irish potatoes, of course, were originally a food crop of the Indians in South America.

Propagation is easily done by just planting the tubers. Breeding for larger size, greater production or other desirable traits will require growing from seed. Apparently that is not so easily done. So growing from seed on a regular basis appears to be the first challenge.

Don't underestimate the possibilities.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 5:58PM
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trsinc, I doubt that it could penetrate caliche, but I won't say for sure because I just don't know. My parents have a layer of mica 8 inches down and I feel like that should be able to contain it, so why not try. A raised bed won't do you any good unless it's raised over the caliche.

As far as storage, they need to be cool and moist. They dry out easily if left in the open air. I am storing mine in soil in the refrigerator. You could also wrap them in a damp paper towel or something.

I definately would like to get some seed, but that may be harder than it sounds.

I hope some of you try this plant out. I'd love to hear about other experiences with it.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 2:21PM
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